The Agency

Bad Breath

Uhg. I think I’ve seen enough black goop to last a lifetime.

After “interviewing” some hostages from our encounter with Cale (I probably wouldn’t have tried that if I had known they could self-destruct…), we pressed on deeper in to the temple. Apparently, this place was built on a rich black goop vein because the stuff is everywhere. We wound up in an enormous system of tunnels, presumably designed for the transport and storage of black goop. Although the place seemed to have some kind of enchantment that confused navigation, Ianmar managed to work out some kind of “Alcohol Positioning System” using a magic flagon. I think this is the first time booze has aided my sense of direction (then again, I am not a dwarf).

Anyway, the resident black dragon we thought we had cut down turned up again, understandably pissed (also, apparently infected with an insect as well). We decided that discretion would be the better part of valor for this encounter and hoofed it, eventually managing to dump a giant rock on the beast’s head.

From there, we managed to solve a few puzzles concealing parts of a key that opened the way to the temple’s inner sanctum (also filled with goop). Within, the artifact sealing the insects was clearly failing. The black dragon guardian returned yet again (he’s persistent, I’ll give him that), and asked us to slay him to free him from the insects corruption. He didn’t go quietly, however, and proceeded to claw me in the face and vomit acid everywhere. I’m a bit hazy on what happened next, but I seem to recall seeing Errol flying through the air towards the dragon. Then I saw another Errol. And another, until the air was filled Errols falling from the sky. The Errols all landed on top of the dragon, daggers-first, exploding him in a shower of black goop.

The next thing I remember, Mara-Kai was forcing a healing potion down my throat, yelling at me to get up. I asked her where all the Errols went, but she just looked at my quizzically, and I realized that the battle was still going on.

We narrowly (and I do mean narrowly!) managed to defeat the insect-dragon. And the corruption surrounding the sealing artifact seemed to vanish. Hmmm, does this mean we saved the day? I guess we will find out soon.

-Lawrence

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Chest-burster?

Well, it looks like Cale and his little posse of mercs have been following us (maybe we shouldn’t have dismantled those guardians). And apparently Cale is a ninja.

According to him, they followed us to confirm we are still on board with his boss’s plan. Honestly, I’m not sure how he envisioned this encounter would turn out. It has become pretty clear that they have been lying to us from the beginning (Lito’s testimony, the Fernando crest, inconsistencies in the stories surrounding the kobold attacks), and it has become equally clear that removing the artifact from the temple is probably not the best idea. Was he expecting we would just follow along?

Anyway, after negotiations broke down (may have had something to do with Errol stabbing Cale in the back of the head, while simultaneously stealing his wallet), we put down their merry band. On finishing off the bald ninja with a particularly defiant gaze (if I do say so myself), some kind of insect burst out of him and continued to fight.

After a harrowing combat, Bug-Cale decided to flee the scene. As it ran out of range, it turned to make (what I presume was) a rude gesture with one of it’s claws. At that point, its head fell off because, I realized, Mara-Kai had teleported behind him and chopped it off. Now that one deserves a high-five.

-Lawrence

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Ridin' balls

After a few hidden doors opened by solving riddles (never struck me as the best security system, but it sure is popular), we ended up in a collapsing tunnel. Looks like I was right about the rocks. I think they just call it a “trial” to cover up their substandard workmanship. Case in point, the platform at the end of the tunnel promptly collapsed as soon as we set foot on it, leaving me dangling off the edge.

Long story short I was saved by an enormous floating ball, one of four circling around the room. When everyone saw I stuck to the ball, they all decided to jump on and ride the balls around as well, which as just as well because apparently ancient kobolds used balls as a kind of transportation device. After fiddling with our balls for a bit, we were able to get them to descend. For a while, we were enveloped by darkness; four balls dangling in space.

Finally, we reached our destination: a lower region of the temple guarded by two animated dragon statues. Again, we were deemed to be worthy by virtue of our riddle-solving ability (maybe the kobolds’ ancient enemies all hated riddles?). Regardless, Errol decided he wanted the gems that made up the statues’ eyes. Now, in my experience, when working with a certain type of person, it’s generally best to let them do their thing. Complaining about thieving is probably the fastest way to get left in a trap-ridden tomb with no one who knows how to disable them. So we helped him overcome the guardians.

And I’m not the type to turn down a gem or two… Something tells me this temple is not going to be here much longer.

-Lawrence

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Acid bath

Considering our goal going in to this encounter was to save the kobolds and stop the ancient evil, I’m not sure if I can count it as a victory. But nonetheless, I have to agree with Errol, that blowing up a good portion of the kobold temple and slaying the guardian of whatever is sealed under it was pretty satisfying.

Looks like we will be heading on in to the temple proper. Apparently, Lito tells us, there will be tests within that we must pass to prove we are worthy. In my experience, this usually means rocks will be falling on us, but who knows? I wasn’t expecting these guys to turn their unborn young in to explosives either, so maybe they’ll have something a little more clever rigged up. (Note: Should try to avoid letting Errol get his hands on explosives while we are under ground.)

-Lawrence

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Beyond the Temple's Walls

A brief synopsis of the Squad’s initial foray into the kobold village within the temple walls, culminating in freeing a kobold shaman, who told the Squad an interesting tale regarding the formation of the village and what it protects.

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Politics as Usual

After a restful night in a pair of suites at the Beach Tavern and Inn, the Squad is met by Cale, the Mayor’s servant, who takes the Squad on a quick tour of Paradiso. On the way, the Squad learns of the political rivalry between the current Mayor and a new face in Paradiso’s political arena.

Though Paradiso’s mayor is technically elected, the * family has ruled peacefully and successfully for many years. However, * has built up enough support to become a serious challenge to the established Mayor, particularly amongst the poorer sections of town. The rest of Paradiso consisted of the Noble quarter, where the Old Families of Paradiso continue to reside, the Merchant’s Quarter, where the well-off tradesmen of Paradiso live in relative luxury, and the Trade Quarter where the business of the town was conducted.

The Squad was led to the Mayor’s manor, where * made his case for the town’s current situation. Several homes and business had been burned and Kobolds were sighted at various locations around town. The Mayor suspected his opponent of allying himself with the Kobolds in an effort to scare up some support, literally. The Mayor also admitted to capturing a single kobold found in town and torturing him to death for information. Unfortunately, they did not learn anything. Soon after, the Mayor’s son Penn disappeared under mysterious circumstances during the night. The Mayor ended the meeting by informing the group that he would be too busy to meet with them as he had important research to perform in his Alchemical laboratory, but that they could contact Cale should they need anything. He ended the meeting by providing gifts of magical items his family had purchased over the years, and then bid the Squad farewell.

The next meeting was with Paradiso’s constable, a gritty man who was clearly good at his job, if somewhat overworked. He gave the group the locations of the various kobold sightings as well as the various acts of arson. Interestingly, no kobolds had been specifically sighted at the sites of arson but they had been seen around town at various times. Also, the buildings that were burned to the ground were all towards the center of town and located in the Merchant and Noble Quarters, rather than in the common district.

The Squad’s third meeting was with the political newcomer . Of note, he vehemently denied being involved in arson. His evidence was that the buildings that were burned to the ground all belonged to people who were supporting him in the election, in part due to blackmail. He also claimed that Penn, the Mayor’s son, was also in support of *’s bid for the election. Privately, * seems to suspect that the Mayor himself is behind these acts in order to slander him and ruin his political chances. Despite the shady methods * is using, he appears to be interested in helping to further aid the poor of Paradiso at the cost of the rich and powerful.

The final meeting was with one of the town’s victims – the local priest of Ioun. Despite his obvious drug habit, the priest appeared to be taking excellent care of Ioun’s library. He also had interesting information regarding the magical field surrounding Paradiso, and the Mayor’s recent interest in the phenomenon. Aside from that, the priest had no useful information and was quite addled.

After their investigation, the Squad decided it was time to head to the kobold village in search of Penn and further information. They hired a local guide, Tusk, to take them there and set off through the swamp that very night.

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Making an Anthill Out of a Mountain
Out of the Hall of the Mountain Queen

When the dirt settles, the floor no longer crumbles, and our curses clear the air, we finally discover the trouble we’ve gotten into. The dim lighting emanates from fungus coating the walls, illuminating what appears to be a cavern full of refuse. Dead husks, emptied egg sacs, luckily no live ants about. Once we found our feet, our goal was quickly agreed upon – escape without any undue trouble.

Errol gave us a glance and a smirk, and forged ahead, fading into the gloom. The rest of us tried to keep up, moving towards the closest passageway where Erroll had gone. The passageway opened into a massive cavern, the dirt well worn. Our explorations weren’t stealthy – we realized this when a couple fire ants stumbled across us. We got the jump on them and ended it with a minimum of fuss. Our lesson learned, Erroll forged on ahead to find a way for us to escape while we returned to the refuse room.

While Erroll was gone, the gods were not smiling on us. Ants kept wandering into sight, launching themselves at us. We fended them off well enough, though it started getting a bit closer when the worker ants starting trying to call for help. As we’re starting to feel some pressure, Erroll just . . . faded into action. We didn’t see him coming, and neither did the ants. Mopping up didn’t take long after that.

Erroll had us wait a bit, then lead us towards the exit. The ants seemed preoccupied, though Erroll initially didn’t comment on it. Once we found the exit, the story became clear. The “exit” was an ant, specially formed to act as a gate. Erroll pulled some organs from a pouch, staring thoughtfully at the ant. He explained the organs were pheromone pouches, one of which he had thrown into the queen’s lair to induce a panic in the ants. The gate ant used the same pheromones to communicate – examining the ant revealed a set of sensory organs, which responded to the pheromones, allowing us out.

And by out, I mean up a level. We had fallen more than a single floor under ground, and we weren’t out of the hill yet. This floor seemed much more open – we could see a giant lake, some walls swarming with normal ants, and cavernous open spaces. Erroll headed off to scout ahead, leaving the rest of us to check out the lake. As we approached the lake, we could see a skeletal hand reaching out of the lake. Something glinted in the skeletal hand, which obligates any adventurer to investigate for potential loot. It looked promising, until we went to reach for the skeleton – then the walls boiled to life, pouring ants to the floor. Unlike the ants we had previously seen, these were thousands of regular ants. Like the previous ants, they were aggressive.

These ants flooded us, crawling up our legs, into our armor, biting anything they could reach. They seemed to be an omnipresent aura of enraged biting – strikes could kill hundreds of ants with little apparent effect, although explosions could clear entire areas of the swarm. Another combat, more enemies dead. And with killing the ants, we were free to examine the corpse to relieve it of an amulet and some scale mail. Closer examination revealed both to be magical, and were duly doled out to interested party members.

At this point, Erroll led us to one corner of the cavern which he found suspicious. In a large alcove comprising one corner of the cavern, he warned us that the central section was a false floor, but there was something strange about the walls. We scoured the walls and argued over the possibilities, and finally decided the floor was false and hiding the actual exit. Digging unveiled the suspected exit – and a pit full of spikes and ants, waiting for us to fall through the false floor. We opted to quietly make our way up another level.

I felt pretty good about our progress as we reached the third floor of the ant hill. I felt less good with the rumblings as we started hurrying along the single hallway. Some ants attacked us as we hurried down the hallway, and we killed them as quickly as possible. We arrived at the end of the tunnel, running smackdab into another false wall. We attacked it with a vengeance, figuring escape was imminent, and while we started removing false wall, our enthusiasm caused the ceiling to become unstable as well. We cleared the area, watching the ceiling and various walls collapse. Our destructive enthusiasm brought the attention of a whole host of ants – including soldier ants this time around. This fight got hairy as they rushed us and pinned us against a wall, but behind them we could spy the entrance. Daylight filtered down from the exit, and gave us the strength to face a final wave of ants. We killed them, ran for the exit, and kept running as we heard the enraged scream from the hill – the queen, most likely.

Once we heard the scream, we kept running until we made it to Paradiso. Sighting the walls of Paradiso was a relief for multiple reasons – the safety and civilization was nice, but the sudden absence of mosquitoes and other insects was luxury itself. The voice of a guardsman challenging our entrance was a kind reminder of returning to humanity. Upon announcing ourselves as Hands of the Agency, he informed us that the Mayor had already acquired rooms for us, and would see us in the morning. We took the room gratefully, and retired for the evening.

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Through the Marsh
Making a Mountain Out of an Anthill

Finally found a steady way to continue our search, and get paid in the process. Mara-kai and I signed up to work for the Agency, and got assigned to be Hands, errand boys handling the dirty and dangerous work. I plan on keeping notes to keep events clear and straight as possible.

We signed up with the Agency, and two other recruits got assigned into a quad with us.. There’s Errol, an Elf with a fairly mean look to him, and Lawrence, a Human naming himself a cleric in the service of Ioun. For completeness, Mara-kai is my friend and a Genasi Swordmage, and I am Ianmar, a Dwarven Invoker.

As the ink dries on our contracts, we’re handed an errand to handle. Kobolds gone murderous near Paradiso. I’ve heard of Paradiso, the pinpoint of civilization in the Creeping Marsh. And here we are, being sent to help the Mayor try and clean up the homicidal kobolds.

Before we head out, a quick stop at a local store to grab supplies for wading in the marsh. Errol wandered off as soon as Lawrence began talking with the shop-keep. Lawrence haggled for some waders and mosquito netting, as well as information. We’re told that the last Hands of the Agency only had one survivor . . . who died from some sort of bug bursting from her stomach. Observations: We’re the second set of errand boys for this mission. There are bugs which may eat us from the inside out.

We exit the store to find Errol mysteriously has some extra mosquito nets and waders, and we certainly didn’t see him pay for them. Errol sold his serendipitous spares to Mara-kai and myself, at a better price than the shop-keep was offering.

Equipped, informed, and on the job, we finally head out. Reached the swamp without any major issue, and set up camp that night to get a full day to make it through the marsh. Just as well – the trip through the marsh took far too long, and disgusting beyond measure. Muck overwhelming even our waders, mosquitoes finding every opening in our netting, the stench of rotting plant matter. Most of the day was simply varying amounts of those experiences in varying amounts. The rest of the day was handling the ant.

At first it was simply a single giant ant. The size of a small dog, hiding in the distance, simply watching. Once it started following us, it sent chills down my spine. Too damned smart, and not something to look forward too, if you ask me. Lawrence heard me muttering, gave me a quizzical look, and shrugged it off. I guess ants don’t phase him. It followed us for awhile, and we did our best to keep out of anywhere that might threaten it or its hive. Which lead us directly to the ant’s giant anthill.

Of course, we didn’t recognize the anthill immediately – all we saw was a hill with a cliff on one side. Mara-kai and Errol clambered right up the cliff face, no problem – and then the ants arrived – workers, fire ants, blood vines. All surrounding Lawrence and me – at least until Errol threw a rope down to us, and Lawrence scaled it without too much difficulty. I’m not the strong type, so I took a heavy beating from fire breathing ants and workers slashing at me. I made it up the rope on my second attempt, and then started the real fight.

You can learn a fair bit about people in the heat of combat. The lesson here was cohesion – knowing almost nothing about one another, we quickly fell into a smooth operation. The fight wasn’t without danger – fire bursts, vine lashes, and workers going into frenzies. But we made it through without too much issue. The battlefield cleared, we rested – there was a rumbling sound below, which we ignored. Up until the floor collapsed out from under us, sending us falling into the heart of the ant hill.

Observation: None of us has any idea what a giant ant hill looks like. Until now, that is.

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Squad 453's First Mission
Trouble in Paradiso

Welcome to the Hands, yadda yadda yadda. Etcetera and so forth. I’m Slate Lokkson the Hand’s Section Chief here in Gold’s Landing. As you may have heard, a lot of the Agency’s resources are devoted to aiding our northern neighbors, Ryn’Alar, against the invasion from the Old Kingdoms. So we’re short on manpower in most of our local sectors and that means you’re being sent out immediately.

Your first mission’s taking you to the middle of the Creeping Marsh due east of here. The Mayor of Paradiso contacted us to take care of some problems with a local tribe of humanoids. We don’t normally assume the local tribes are in the wrong, but in this case there’ve been some killings. So get out there and find out what exactly’s going on, then put a stop to it.

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Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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